“Virginia Beahan is one of our most accomplished and eloquent photographers. Her images remind us that the best landscapes have as much to tell us about history and culture as they do about topography. Looking at CUBA singing with bright tears, I am heartened to see that it is still possible to make a perfect photograph.”—Toby Jurovics, curator of photography, Smithsonian American Art Museum
CUBA singing with bright tears depicts a country both tragic and beautiful, struggling beneath the weight of history. Larger-than-life images of revolutionary heroes Che Guevara and José Martí populate the island. The Bay of Pigs is sublime and treacherous; an atmospheric body of water rimmed with jagged black coral is the same unwelcoming shore that greeted invading CIA-trained Cuban exiles over forty-seven years ago. On a billboard, Fidel Castro reminds us that the US might invade again, and if so, he “will die fighting.”
Virginia Beahan’s work falls within the tradition of great American photographers such as Walker Evans and Robert Adams. Her luminous and detailed large-format photographs reveal a landscape imbued with nuanced stories of culture shaped by geography and human action. Cuba’s long and complicated relationship with the United States is part of this unfolding drama.
Virginia Beahan’s photographs are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, San Francisco MoMA, the Getty Museum, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Corcoran in Washington, DC. She has received grants from the Guggenheim and Mellon foundations. Beahan teaches photography at Dartmouth College. Her collaborative monograph, No Ordinary Land, was published by Aperture in 1998.
Virginia Beahan; Jon Lee Anderson; Pico Iyer. Cuba: Singing With Bright Tears. Pond Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780976195559